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£60m Manchester sports centre: plans revealed

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Steve Jones, managing director of climbing wall manufacturer, Entre-Prises (UK) has unveiled details of Venture Xtreme – a £60m development he claims will be the world’s first indoor extreme sports adventure centre.

While Entre-Prises – which recently installed a 400sq m ice climbing wall at Ice Factor in Kinlochleven, Scotland – will be one of the main suppliers to the centre, the scheme is a personal project of Jones’ backed by Nikal Investments.

Three years in the planning, the 500,000sq ft Venture Xtreme will offer more than 20 adventure sports under one roof, supported by specialist retail shops, an adventure travel agency, bars, restaurants, hotel accommodation and a health and fitness club with a swimming pool.

Although a site has yet to be confirmed, Jones is looking at a number of locations in the Manchester area, including Sportcity and a site on the Manchester ring road. Property agents, Dunlop Heywood Lorenz, are advising him.

Architects for the project are expected to be Ove Arup.

Venture Xtreme will be divided into sports zones, including rope sports, water sports, board sports, kids adventure and outdoor adventure.

The main focus however will be on rope sports, which will offer 5,500sq m of climbing wall, the world’s largest ice climbing wall at 750sq m and a cave system.

The British Mountaineering Council has already said it intends to make Venture Xtreme home to the British national climbing team.

The complex will also offer a skydiving simulator, an indoor surf centre and an artificial white water slalom and rafting course as well as a three-level high ropes adventure course, a skate and BMX park, a snowboarders half pipe, an abseiling room, a 12m scuba diving pool and a half-mile long zip wire.

For children there will also be specialist crèches and an indoor snow room with snowmen, sledges and igloos.

Training courses will be offered at all levels for the sports available and lecture theatres and exhibition areas will host speakers from around the world. A theatre will specialise in showing adventure films.

Jones aims to open between three and four Venture Xtreme sites in the UK – but says each will have a different focus.

While the initial site will introduce rope sports as its dominant feature, the second site, provisionally planned for the London area, would be based around an international slalom and white water rafting centre.

The third site, likely to be situated in the south west near Bristol, would include one of the world’s largest indoor surf centres and able to host major surfing competitions with live television link ups to similar facilities around the world.

Jones, a former international slalom team canoeist, international caver and cave diving depth record holder, says he expects to open the Manchester Venture Xtreme in 2006.

The scheme has been announced just weeks after plans were unveiled for Chill Factor E, a £28m indoor snowsports destination to be built on an 11-acre site next to Manchester’s Trafford Centre.

Chill Factor E is being developed by Mountain Activities, a management team chaired by Peter Moore, whose career has seen him work for Center Parcs, Alton Towers and, more recently, on the £1bn Blackpool masterplan announced in March 2003.

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Steve Jones, managing director of climbing wall manufacturer, Entre-Prises (UK) has unveiled details of Venture Xtreme – a £60m development he claims will be the world’s first indoor extreme sports adventure centre.
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